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View Diary: The future of power generation (188 comments)

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  •  US Wind Power Projects (4.00)
    Here's a nifty little item from the American Wind Energy Association website, a state-by-state breakdown of wind power projects in the US.  To get a detailed listing of wind projects in each state, just click on the state on the map.

    Things to note:

    1.  the huge growth in installed wind power capacity in the past 5-6 years;

    2.  the presence of major corporations in building and operating the wind farms;

    3.  while people think of wind in the US in terms of California, the rapid growth of the industry, and the absolutely enormous wind energy potential of the US, is in the nation's heartland, in a belt that runs from Minnesota to Texas, Iowa to Wyoming.  

    Are progressives and Democrats looking for issues to break through in the plains states?  Wind energy should be at the top of that agenda.  With windpower, farmers with large tracts of lands can diversify and increase their income streams by adding wind power to the mix.  Each turbine requires about 1/2 acre of footing; utilities like Xcel, FPL and others will pay leasehold rents of $1000-2500, depending on wind capacities, for each unit installed.  A farmer with  1200 acres can lease 10 acres out for wind, and add anywhere from $20-50K a year to their overall income by leasing space for wind turbines.  It's far too late to save most of the family farms, but turning the breadbasket into the windbasket offers huge benefits to individual farm owners and rural  local economies throughout the plains.  You know, like in Oklahoma, where the wind comes whipping down the plain...  
    •  sounds too good too be true (none)
      $20-50K /10 acres of land is more of a return than any farmer can take in on his land (unless he was growing opium or marijuana or renting it out to a bunny ranch).

      Where did you get that figure?

      •  A few years back (none)
        I read it in the dead-tree version of the New York Times, it had to do with some of the installations then coming online in Minnesota.
      •  That's 10 acres total (none)
        One windmill with a half acre footprint could be a half mile from another windmill with a half acre footprint etc. Over a large enough farm, you would lose ten acres of corn growing space to put up  twenty windmills, not have twenty windmills on a ten acre plot.

        It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

        by George on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 06:12:59 PM PDT

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        •  Why would all that land be lost for corn? (none)
          Most of the wind blows above the stalks. :)

          Wilbur from Charlotte's Web turned out okay, and he was just some pig. :)

          by cskendrick on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 06:50:09 PM PDT

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        •  So what is the rule of thumb? (none)
          Acreage for spacing wind turbines  on open ground, say in midwest or south western PA ?

          1 turbine/ X acres

          X=?

          •  Welshman has a post below with some numbers (none)
            Looks like 50-100 acres per windmill

            It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

            by George on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 07:09:22 PM PDT

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            •  Defining land requirements (none)
              is a 'it depends" ...

              As I understand restrictions, Welshman is right when it comes to issues like housing / offices / structures and many other land uses.  There are real restrictions ...  

              On the other hand, there are minimal reasons why agriculture -- especially agriculture that does not require constant presence of workers -- cannot continue in/around/under windmill blades.  The "lost" land is related to the base structure, potentially to electrical cables, and potentially to access routes (maintenance and such).  Well done, the "loss" per windmill should run in the range of .5 acres.

              As well, from a different angle, the UK market has house-mounted windmills (which I'm trying to check out for purchase here).  And, of course, there are smaller windmills that one can put in if you're in the right location and have enough land for set-back from neighbors / house.

              •  Yes exactly (none)
                Wind opponents make it sound like we need to dedicate prime real estate 100% to the turbines. Adding turbines to existing farmland provides supplemental income to the farmer while letting the farm production continue.

                It could be worse. msaroff could still be living in Texas.

                by George on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 07:29:00 PM PDT

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    •  some of this is already starting (none)
      in WI, and when we drove up to Green Bay from Milwaukee earlier this month, we drove past a couple of small wind farms.

      In Wisconsin, tilting at windmills is a serious matter

      LEROY, WIS. – Dairy farmer Dennis Oechsner cocks his head and squints upward as 200 Canada geese pass overhead on a brilliant spring afternoon. Across the fields, flocks in ragged Vs mark the start of a migration that will bring hundreds of thousands of geese through the area before summer.

      Birds, including threatened and endangered species, are at the center of a dispute over a $250 million wind-turbine complex that a Chicago company wants to build in east central Wisconsin. Invenergy Wind LLC hopes to erect 133 turbines, each standing 389 feet tall, across 50 square miles of farmland just east of Horicon Marsh, a federal and state wildlife refuge described by bird experts as one of the largest and most important wetlands in the Midwest.

      Many farmers have embraced the plan. Scores would profit from turbines on their land, including Mr. Oechsner, who, together with his father and brother, would earn $46,200 from 11 turbines on the 750 acres they own in common. But others say the turbines will harm the birds that descend upon the marsh each spring and fall.

      The problem will be working out the problem with endangering birds and bats. The Christian Science Monitor story quoted above does a good job of presenting both sides of the issue.

      •  On bird kill (none)
        The problem with the Altamont windfarm is taht they used an older technology with shorter, faster rotating blades.  Thus bird kill there has been devastating.  Here's a report on a Dutch study showing that bird kill by modern wind energy systems is relatively minor:  Dutch study.
      •  BTW (none)
        Denmark gets 20% of its power from wind.  Now, I don't know if you're familiar with Danish culture at all, but on my Mom's side I'm as Danish as rodgrod.  If windmills were annihilating vast numbers of birds, Danes simply wouldn't stand for it, Danes are extremely sentimental about such things.
        •  I've actually been (none)
          reassured by the things I've read about migration studies, but the POLITICAL problem of convincing people that it's not a huge problem is going to be an issue. It gets brought up in EVERY story about wind power, I'm sure helped along w/ by flaks from competing power sources.
        •  Rød grød med fløde (none)
          which is impossible for non-Danes to pronounce and means something like "red berries with cream".

          Yes, I've seen some of Denmark's windmills, there were plenty when I was there in 1998 and I'm sure there's more now.  As far as I was concerned, they were an interesting attraction, esp. juxtaposed against a few old dutch-style windmills still standing in a few locations.

          20% does show the viability of wind, although I do remember Denmark as having a lot of wind due to being on the sea.  

    •  That's excellent news! (none)
      With all of the hot air in Washington, D.C., you would think the wind lobby would be stronger. ;)

      The problem we have now is the fossil fuel sector owns the executive branch. Sooner or later, we're going to have to change over. I'd rather it was sooner, than later.

      Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Tom Paine

      by Alumbrados on Sun Jul 10, 2005 at 05:56:36 PM PDT

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    •  The blades can throw ice in the wintertime... (none)

      If the climate is cold enough, you cannot have populated areas near windmills.  This is what I was told anyways...

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